New report provides a comprehensive look at charitable giving to women’s and girls’ organizations during the pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted services and programs that support women and girls all over the world, women’s and girls’ organizations in the U.S. received $8.8 billion in charitable giving in 2020—a 9.2% increase over 2019, according to new research released today by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The fifth annual Women & Girls Index (WGI) finds that while giving to women and girls grew during the peak of the global health crisis, philanthropic support for these organizations was still lower than the 11.3% growth in overall charitable giving in 2020*, and represents less than 2% of all giving in the U.S. that year.
The WGI provides the only systematically generated, comprehensive data on charitable organizations dedicated to women and girls in the U.S. and tracks the amount of philanthropic support they receive from individuals, foundations and corporations. This year’s WGI adds information from 2020—the most recent year for which finalized IRS data is available—to expand the picture of charitable giving to women and girls from 2012 to 2020.
“The year 2020 was marked by upheaval across all areas of life, and philanthropy—especially giving to women and girls—was no exception,” said Jeannie Sager, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. “This year’s WGI confirms that while the pandemic catalyzed philanthropic action in the U.S. and around the world, giving to women’s and girls’ causes continues to lag other areas of philanthropy. The pandemic erased progress that had been made toward gender equity, and women and girls will need additional resources to continue to make gains. The WGI provides a powerful tool for identifying funding opportunities that address issues affecting women and girls.”
The pandemic disproportionately impacted women in numerous ways, and the 2023 WGI shows how charitable giving responded to the needs generated by these unprecedented events. For example, contributions to family and gender-based violence prevention organizations in the WGI rose by 17.0% between 2019 and 2020, suggesting that donors may have been motivated to give to these organizations as domestic violence incidents increased following pandemic stay-at-home orders.
Additionally, in 2020, societal conversations inspired by the racial and social justice movement also raised questions about the dearth of funding for women and girls of color and spurred donors to action. The WGI is one part of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s Equitable Giving Lab, an initiative of the school funded by Google.org to better understand charitable giving to diverse communities and under-resourced groups. Forthcoming research by the school for the Equitable Giving Lab will examine funding for BIPOC communities, as well as intersectional groups like LGBTQ+ women and girls, and women and girls of color.
Key findings from the 2023 WGI include:
- Women’s and girls’ organizations received $8.8 billion in philanthropic support in 2020—or 1.8% of total charitable giving. This $8.8 billion represents a 9.2% increase in philanthropic support over 2019.
- Reproductive health and family planning organizations received the greatest amount of philanthropic support for women’s and girls’ organizations in 2020, a consistent trend over time. However, other types of women’s and girls’ organizations experienced changes likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as an increase in contributions to women’s and girls’ human services organizations, and a decrease in contributions to women’s and girls’ sports and recreation.
- Some subsectors received an unexpected boost in charitable giving from 2019 to 2020, including women’s and girls’ arts and culture, and women’s and girls’ education. This growth can be explained in part by the influence of a few large donations on relatively small areas of philanthropy.
- Support for women’s and girls’ organizations from government grants increased 10.1% from 2019 to 2020, but substantially lagged the 36.6% growth from this funding source that was received by other charitable organizations.
“Women and girls have been shown to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, which generated greater giving to these organizations, but also greater—and sustained—demand for services,” said Una Osili, Ph.D., associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. “The WGI equips donors, fundraisers and others dedicated to women’s and girls’ causes to make an urgent case for increased and lasting philanthropic support for the myriad issues affecting women and girls.”
Among affluent households who gave to women’s and girls’ causes, 8.2% indicated they were motivated to do so by hearing that women’s and girls’ causes receive less than 2% of all charitable giving, according to the 2023 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy: Charitable Giving by Affluent Households conducted by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. In conjunction with today’s release of the 2023 WGI, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute will observe Give to Women and Girls Day, an effort to increase funding for women’s and girls’ organizations, in partnership with Giving Tuesday, Impact 100, Magee-Women’s Research Institute, Ms. Foundation for Women, National Women’s Hall of Fame, Philanos, Philanthropy Together, Pivotal Ventures, Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Together Women Rise, United Nations Foundation, Vital Voices, Women's Funding Network and Women Moving Millions.
The full research brief and a downloadable dataset of women- and girls-serving organizations are available at EquitableGivingLab.org/WGI. A searchable index of the 51,756 charitable organizations included in the 2023 WGI can be accessed at WomenAndGirlsIndex.org. Additional information about how to participate in Give to Women and Girls Day can be found here.
*Source: Giving USA 2023, researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and published by Giving USA Foundation.
About the Women’s Philanthropy Institute
The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) is part of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. WPI increases understanding of women’s philanthropy through rigorous research and education, interpreting and sharing these insights broadly to improve philanthropy. Learn more at https://philanthropy.iupui.edu/wpi
About the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its undergraduate, graduate, certificate and professional development programs, its research and international programs, and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy, Women’s Philanthropy Institute, and the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative. Follow us on X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn, or Instagram and “Like” us on Facebook.